Food; my pleasure, my pain.

Over the past few days I’ve considering one other area of my life. And That is Food and Drink. I struggle with this subject, as it causes both pleasure and pain for me. I had issues in my teens with food, as many do, and had many arguments with my parents about it, and had much bullying about my weight.

After I left home, I discovered my love of cooking, entertaining and eating out in restaurants. In my early twenties I stopped giving most people presents, as I realised taking them out for a meal not only meant I got to treat someone, but that I got to try places that I simply couldn’t go on my own. I found many gems in London, and found “Toptable”, a website where you could go to top restaurants in cheap deals due to day, time or special menu. This me2nt I could afford Michelin starred meals on my theatre wage (which was a pittance).

I enjoyed visiting markets, farm shops out in Kent, and places like Chinatown to get special ingredients to cook exciting meals at home. And I even put in a fancy kitchen costing a fortune in my flat, which I only got to use for two years before we moved out of London. (I planned to extend our new home and put in an equally impressive kitchen into our new house in Coventry, but circumstance being as they were, 8 years later this still hasnt happened.)

After the move to Coventry, I soon came to the conclusion that theatre work was not my immediate future. I started food blogging, and even applied for “Masterchef” (which I got through three rounds of Pre-television auditions.) I signed up for a Professional Cookery part-time course at the local college, and got a job at a cafe in Birmingham. The cafe was in a station, and it was mostly breakfast and sandwiches, but I learned how to use a proper coffee machine, and was trained as a barista by the manager. The coffee was so good, and although I had liked coffee since I was about 18, this is when I started to understand and enjoy its complexities.

Three months later I got my first job as a commis chef in a gastropub, and started my 1 day a week course. This was the hardest job I’ve ever had. I lasted 7 months, and I cried nearly every day. I ended up being fired when a new general manager took over the pub and changed the entire team. It was a great thing looking back, as I had been too stubborn to quite. I went to the doctor and got anti depressants and took three months to recover and finish my course.

Once I started to feel better, I got a job in a cafe as chef and manager.  It was within a farm shop, and it had just had a grant to extend the kitchen, and this made it possible to add more complexity to the menu, and increase the capacity of the venue. This was a great job, but a few months later I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. I was there for a little over 10 months, and decided that it wasn’t something I wanted to go back to. Thus ended my chef career (although I do occasionally do relief chef work for a friend in her nursery when the usual chef is on holiday, and I really love doing that!)

I have run a training kitchen within Coventry university, but to be honest that used my skill Of organisation, food hygiene and the bits I had learned while attending “Slimming  world” more then anything that I did as a chef.

Now I find I spend as little time in the kitchen as possible, I much prefer being out of the house and try not to think too much about food, except to photograph and blog. I have trauma and issues that need to be explored still, so currently it’s something that is still difficult to think too hard about. Maybe in the future I will be able to share more.


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